Russia: Putin begins fifth term as president

Russian President Vladimir Putin was sworn in for a fifth term at a ceremony in the Kremlin on Tuesday. The 71-year-old will now rule the country for another six years. Russia will emerge stronger from this difficult time, Putin promised during the ceremony, which many EU representatives did not attend. Commentators are critical in their assessments.

Elvira Vikhareva (RU) /

He’s got the whole country in his pocket

The 2020 constitutional amendment turned Russia into a de facto dictatorship, opposition politician Elvira Vikhareva writes on Facebook:

“Putin no longer needs to save face, he no longer has to tolerate all those liberal guests at victory parades and in the high offices of the Kremlin, he can crack down on political opponents and bully his own people without resistance – in short, he can do just as he pleases. In addition, the blatant constitutional amendments were accompanied by the biggest electoral fraud in Russian history. ... In 2020, the country’s entire legal system, including the constitution, was subjugated to a man who talks to us today about saving the people – while the country, half-alive and half-dead, is writhing in convulsions.”

Elvira Wicharewa
Avvenire (IT) /

Self-coronation without a trophy

Putin is repeating himself, Avvenire mocks:

“A bit of Peter the Great, a bit of Napoleon. Vladimir Putin is sworn in for his fifth term in office as President of the Russian Federation, his third in a row, in a ceremony that has the air of a self-coronation. A tsar with seemingly unbreakable power at home, but who’d been hoping for a more grandiose ceremony. Moscow’s army has regained ground in Ukraine, but has not yet captured any major towns. As a result, yesterday’s speech threatens to become a template for tomorrow’s, when at the parade on Red Square to celebrate victory in the Great Patriotic War the tsar will have no big news to break to the Russians.”

Marta Ottaviani
The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Contradicting all his promises of long ago

Putin’s reign is disastrous in every respect, The Daily Telegraph comments:

“It is more than 24 years since he first assumed the presidency, aged just 47, with promises to promote democracy. He foresaw Russia as ‘free, prosperous, strong and civilised, a country that its citizens are proud of and is respected internationally’. Today, it is none of those. Any pretence to freedom has long since gone, the economy has tanked, the Russian army’s murderous assaults on civilians in Ukraine removes all claims to civilised behaviour, and it is isolated from its closest European neighbours.”

Les Echos (FR) /

Patriotism, cynicism, pragmatism

Les Echos sums up Putin’s approach:

“The 71-year-old president, who is more of a tactician than a strategist, has not developed a real ideology since taking office in 1999. ... But in a constant balancing act between the imperial and Soviet past, between capitalism and socialism, he knows how to adapt and manipulate in order to showcase Russia’s power. A patriotic and cynical pragmatism to better sow confusion and maintain apathy. His crushing and caricature-like fifth election had a dual objective: to keep the president in power, but above all to highlight his supposed closed bond with the country.”

Benjamin Quénelle
Dnevnik (SI) /

Counting on Trump

Dnevnik comments:

“In his inaugural speech, the president made it clear to the West that future relations with Russia will depend on the Western states and not on how Russia ends its illegal march of conquest on foreign soil. This show of defiance as he starts his fifth term in office should come as no surprise. ... Putin’s greatest ally, who could turn the promise of long-term commitment to Ukraine on its head overnight and lead the US into a new phase of isolationism, is Donald Trump. The months from now to November will be decisive for Ukraine.”

Aleš Gaube